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Bats! meow… | creating, living, loving – all in a long black skirt

AW[a]RE

Recently, I shared a link on my personal Facebook page about an Indiana lawmaker who wants to bring the Lord’s Prayer back into public schools.  My friends fall solidly on both sides of that issue, so debate in the comments was running a little hot.  I see no problem with allowing anyone a few moments of quiet at the start of their day. I take it at work to get settled, but no one is telling me to pray or insisting that I pray a specific prayer.  And THAT is my problem with the proposed legislation.  Reciting the Lord’s Prayer alienates anyone who isn’t Christian and, depending on the version recited, can further alienate either Protestants or Catholics. As much as parents and school administrators work to combat bullying, we cannot allow it on the state level.  Plus, there is that whole separation of church and state thing and it seems this would fall dangerously close to a religion being chosen, endorsed, and mandated.

During the fiery discussion that followed, Eric brought up the AWRE program. Anderson Weekday Religious Education.  This is a program where fourth graders are bussed from Anderson Community Schools to a local church to “introduce your child to the Bible, Christian principles, and character traits through Bible lessons.”  We have teacher friends insisting they’d never heard of the program and that it could not possibly exist in Anderson.  Whisper is our fourth fourth-grader.  We’ve very familiar with the program and with our reservations about it.

  1. If parents want their kids to attend church, there are ample opportunities outside of school time.
  2. I’m incredibly uncomfortable that my daughter’s personal information was provided to an outside group – and no one can tell me if the involved parties have undergone background checks. I cannot attend a field trip with the class if I haven’t had one.
  3. Anderson Community Schools does not impress anyone with its test scores or graduation rates.  Kids need to be in school when they can and we’re doing a disservice by pulling them out of class.
  4. There has been no plan set in place to deal with the kids whose parents decline this opportunity. Ravynn’s 4th grade year, she was one of two students who stayed behind. She spent that time each week coloring.  Really.
  5. When I called the AWRE coordinator in 2011, I was told they were restricted to non-teaching time for this event.  It didn’t seem possible that every fourth grade class had a full hour [plus, if we account for drive time] of non-teaching time available – let alone at the same time.  When I talked to the school, the principal explained the reality of this: the teachers are not allowed to teach the remaining students.  I won’t be fair to the kids who go. Yet, somehow, it’s fair to leave the other students to color…

Now, this is a legal outing as defined by Indiana statute 20.8-1-3-22. I suspect that the people involved are taking advantage of the vague language.

In theory, I have no problem that the program is offered. I really do not.  But it’s interfering with education. I do have a problem with that.

I don’t know if my phone calls and expressed concerns helped, but Whisper reports that she and the other three students who stayed at school spent their free time in the computer lab working on math review/enrichment.  I hope this is offered through the remainder of the program.  Unfortunately, I also understand that the other three children either lost their permission slip or didn’t receive one at their home and the school made sure they got another copy. That makes the program illegal and I look forward to seeing what the FFRF has to say about that.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 4:58 am and is filed under Daily Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “AW[a]RE”

  1. Belynda
    6:36 am on February 4th, 2013

    I am not sure that I know enough about all of it to have an opinion but I surely do understand your concern. Our education system is failing our children on a lot of fronts and if kids aren’t being given an opportunity for quality education during the time they are mandated to be there then that is a serious issue.

    I am not so sure the issue really has anything to do with religion, I personally feel it has more to do with a complete lack of planning for all of the children to have a quality experience. That being said, I had to learn about all religions in school, but we never left school to do so. And I am not sure that I would feel too supportive of all the kids leaving to attend a program like that. That level of immersion should be left to the parents to provide to their children during an appropriate time.

    Good Luck!!

  2. Bats! meow...
    10:24 am on February 4th, 2013

    I agree that this isn’t really about religion. During school hours my child [and all children, I believe] should be in school. Religion becomes an issue because people in Anderson make accommodations in the name of religion that wouldn’t be made in other places. Also, because this is a choice parents can easily make outside of school hours.

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Andrew Jones
    10:08 am on October 31st, 2014

    My son is in the 4th grade in Anderson, so I’ve just become aware of this program. Stumbled on this blog while looking up information. Originally, we didn’t opt-in. Got the letter from the teacher, then got a SECOND letter in the mail, and then the teacher followed up with another letter sent home since I hadn’t sent the first one back. I have never received this much communication about a single school issue before! We didn’t opt-in, and my son was the *only* fourth grader who didn’t go. Rather than being given a *different* enrichment activity to do during that time, he spent an hour doing math practice tasks on the computer. Bored out of his mind, when the other kids got back, he acted out a bit (he told one of the kids he’d been allowed to play Minecraft while they were gone, and told another that he’d earned money or something). He wanted to go to the class with everyone else. Being again assured by the teacher that it was not religious proselytizing, we consented to opt-in.

    He has since been told that Adam and Eve teaches about how those who sin don’t get into heaven, how the devil was cast out of heaven and is separate from God, and how Jesus is going to come again someday. This isn’t just generic Christian values – it’s *specific* doctrinal indoctrination in specific viewpoints/interpretations of specific denominational views of Christianity. Fortunately, it has sparked discussions at home, and I actually feel that he’s developing quite a good bullshit detector from the whole experience, but it isn’t the sort of education we want for him. Especially since, in Anderson, anyone who’s in the public schools is there because the parents specific decided *not* to put them in the religious private schools that are thick on the ground around here!

    From what I can tell, it sounds like the statute was intended for parents who WANTED religious instruction to get their kids out of it for a portion of their educational time. But going out of their way to push the program onto students and their parents, and to give no reasonable alternative to students who don’t go, is clearly objectionable.

  4. chatburte
    3:21 am on November 14th, 2020

    A very HappyThanksgiving to all my dear American friends xxx
    Thanksgiving2019

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